Counseling for Trauma & PTSD

Counseling for Trauma & PTSD

Has a painful experience left you feeling overwhelmed, afraid, alone, and unable to cope? Are you experiencing lingering anxiety, fear, and depression from your trauma? Do you feel powerless to manage the thoughts and emotions surrounding what happened to you? Whether you have had a single traumatic event, or have experienced years of trauma, you don’t have to face this alone. There is hope!

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is the emotional reaction you experience after a traumatic incident such as a car accident, sexual assault, childhood abuse, or natural disaster. Shock and denial are common reactions right after an event, followed by more severe symptoms. Unprocessed trauma can result in unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or auto-immune disorders.

Approximately 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event.

Circumstances That Can Result in Trauma

  • Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence or assault
  • Serious accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • Living in a dangerous environment or witnessing acts of violence
  • War
  • Medical issues like cancer or surgeries
  • Other life-threatening experiences

Trauma Symptoms

Emotional distress is normal following a trauma. The following symptoms may last for days, weeks, or even years, depending on whether the trauma is dealt with.

  • Headaches, backaches, stomachaches, etc.
  • Panic attacks
  • Sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations
  • Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
  • More susceptible to colds and illnesses
  • Increased use of substances or food to cope
  • Fear, depression, anxiety
  • Outbursts of anger or rage
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares and flashbacks — re-experiencing the trauma
  • Tendency to isolate oneself or feeling detached
  • Difficulty trusting and/or feelings of betrayal
  • Self-blame, survivor guilt, or shame
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities

Many people recover from trauma with the love and support of family and friends, but others experience lasting trauma. This inability to move forward after the trauma can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or post-traumatic stress.

Feelings that persist for more than a month after the event can be an indication of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is a mental health issue that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as physical or sexual violence, childhood abuse, a natural disaster, terrorism or war/combat, a serious accident, or any other life-threatening event.

PTSD is experienced by nearly four percent of adults in the U.S. every year. Women experience PTSD at twice the rate as men, but anyone can experience PTSD at any age.

What are the Signs of PTSD?

A person with PTSD must experience symptoms in the following categories:

  • Intrusive thoughts–repeated memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. It may feel like you are reliving the event.
  • Avoiding reminders—avoiding people, places, activities, objects, or situations that remind you of the trauma. You may try to avoid thinking or talking about the event.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings—negative thoughts like “I am worthless/damaged/bad,” “I can’t trust people,” “I’m not safe.” Persistent feelings of fear, anger, guilt, shame, being detached, or alone. Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Arousal and reactive symptoms—irritability, anger outbursts, reckless and self-destructive behavior, being easily startled, on edge, poor concentration, and insomnia.

These are common signs of acute stress, but if they persist beyond a month, you may have PTSD. Symptoms can appear months or years after a trauma and can persist for months or even years if left untreated.

The good news is there is help for PTSD! You don’t have to be stuck with PTSD for the rest of your life.

How Can Therapy Help with Trauma and PTSD?

The sooner you seek help to process a traumatic event, the less likely it will develop into PTSD. If you are experiencing any of the trauma or PTSD symptoms listed above, you should seek the support of a counselor to help you process what happened. Counseling can help you develop healthy coping skills and help you work through the trauma you have experienced.

Research has proven that EMDR Therapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) are the most effective treatments for trauma. I am a trained provider in each of these approaches and am a Certified EMDR Therapist.

  • EMDR  stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This technique uses bilateral sensory input such as side-to-side eye movements or tapping to stimulate the brain to process difficult thoughts, memories, and emotions, so they are no longer distressing. Negative beliefs are replaced with positive beliefs that allow you to see yourself in a healthy light with a new ability to cope with life.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that focuses on how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related to one another. The goal of CBT is to help you change your thinking patterns surrounding the event, giving you a sense of well-being, improving emotions, and adopting healthier behaviors.

I have personally seen my client’s lives transformed through therapy for trauma and PTSD. If you are suffering with signs of trauma or PTSD and would like to find relief, please reach out to me for a free phone consultation. I am confident that I can help.